Cool Stuff in Paris. By Manning Leonard Krull.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Sculptures in a courtyard on Boulevard Saint-Germain

I happened upon this open courtyard full of neat sculptures the other day on Boulevard Saint-Germain, near Métro Solférino. In between taking pictures I read the name of the artist on a card by the entrance, and then promptly forgot it; oops! I've been trying to do some clever Googling to find some info on the artist, but so far I haven't been able to turn up anything. Any ideas?

Parisian Proto-Goth Beauties, 1910

(Parisian Proto-Goth Beauties, 1910, from

Monday, December 19, 2011

Clever stencil of a guy stealing a no entry sign

(Well, stealing part of it.) Spotted on Rue Lepic.

Vincent and Théo Van Gogh's apartment at 54 Rue Lepic

One of my favorite strolls in Paris involves taking Rue Lepic and winding up around the hill of Montmartre; I mentioned this a while back in my article about La Basilique du Sacré Coeur . One of the many interesting sites along this path is the Van Gogh brothers' old apartment. The plaque marking the place is small and a little high up and easy to miss. But if you're in the area, just look for number 54 and you'll spot it.

The plaque reads, "Dans cette maison Vincent Van Gogh a vécu chez son frère Théo de 1886 à 1888." — "In this house Vincent Van Gogh lived at his brother Théo's place from 1886 to 1888."

Friday, December 16, 2011

13 858 € — Etonnant, Non?

€13,858 — Surprising, huh?

Real estate in France is measured in square meters, and there's always a lot of discussion about how many square meters one's apartment is, how much per square meter a particular apartment costs, etc. I found this delightful stencil on the sidewalk of Rue des Saints-Pères, in the very fashionable (and pricey) Saint-Germain-des-Prés area in the 6th arrondissement. I have to wonder if this price is accurate (I have absolutely no notion of these kinds of things, but I figure the guy did his homework) and if the artist who made this particular stencil has perhaps made others that are specific to certain streets or neighborhoods. A neat — and humbling — idea in any case! I've daydreamed from time to time about buying an apartment in Paris someday, maybe in the Marais or Montmartre, which are two neighborhoods that are probably only a little less expensive than this one, and this stencil is a real wakeup call. Wow.

Colorful monster van on Rue de l'Université

Giant creepy face on Boulevard Raspail

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Merry Christmas, Capitaine Dreyfus

Having grown up in America, I never heard about the Dreyfus affair (aka l'affaire Dreyfus) until I was living in Paris as an adult. It's a fascinating, heartbreaking, frustrating story, and it's very well-known by most French people I've talked to. The Wikipedia article is a good introduction to the story, which is one that definitely still weighs heavily on the French conscience.

I happened upon this statue of Capitaine Dreyfus in a tiny park in the Montparnasse neighborhood; I recognized him by his broken sword, and a glance at the plaque on the pedestal confirmed that this was indeed Dreyfus (and not some other guy whose statue had simply been vandalized). The plaque includes the sobering inscription, "If you want me to live on, restore my honor." Anyway, it struck me as a little bit odd and a little bit funny that this poor guy, who happened to be Jewish and suffered greatly for that fact at the hand of the mainstream/Christian French people, has to share his little park with two big ol' Christmas trees. You're seeing the whole park in the picture above; there's really nothing in it but the statue and the trees.

Something I end up discussing with my French friends a lot is the strange, often misguided American notion of political correctness. I personally think we Americans overdo it a lot, but I always mention that I'd almost always prefer to err on the side of overdoing it rather than rejecting the idea all together and adopting the kind of carelessness or insensitivity that I often see in a lot of other countries (and back in the US a lot of the time, I should mention!). It's a matter of perspective, and I don't blame the French for not seeing what I see as insensitivity where they just see things as they've always been.

In any case, I'm not even really criticizing the city of Paris for putting these Christmas trees in Dreyfus' park; it's just something that struck me as funny, because if this happened in the US, some folks (both Jewish and non) would definitely take issue with it, complain to the city, and probably demand an apology and that the trees be removed. And they'd probably get it. In Paris, no one bats an eye. I don't have any strong feelings about this particular instance myself; like I said, sometimes I think we take the PC thing way too far in the US, and sometimes I think the French should really be a little more sensitive about these things. It's a gray area with a million different shades of gray. Just something to think about.

I really recommend reading up on the Dreyfus affair. You can visit Capitaine Dreyfus' tomb in the Cimetière du Montparnasse.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Mr. Ryde is Watching You! (Ta Gueule)

I happened to be wandering around some little side streets in between the Luxembourg Gardens and the Montparnasse neighborhood when I came upon this lovely bit of graffiti that says "TA GUEULE" (photo 1), which is a common French expression meaning "shut up." (It comes from "ferme ta gueule" — literally, "shut your mouth/snout.") Delightful! Upon closer inspection, I noticed this charming little stencil off to the side, and decided to take a photo of that as well (photo 2). Then I wandered a block or so and found a different version of this same guy (3), and then another (4), and another (5)! Lastly, I bumped into this poster (6) pasted high up on a wall, declaring, "Mr. Ryde is watching you." It certainly would appear to be so!

(Click any of the pics to see a larger version.)

I did a bit of Googling to see if I could find any information about our friend Mr. Ryde, but so far I've come up with nothing at all. I've never seen this image anywhere else in Paris, and after finding these five, I wandered in a one-block radius around this area looking for others, but didn't find any more. Quel grand mystère !

Update: Intriguing!
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